The Hockenhulls

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Jacksonville Daily Journal, July 29, 1915 & August 5, 1915

The Hockenhulls
By Ensley Moore.
(July 29 & August 5, 1915)

In view of the passing of Robert McMackin Hockenhull last week, and the ending of the name in a business way, it would seem appropriate to sketch the family history here.

Robert Hockenhull was born in Bunberry, Cheshire, England, Nov. 23, 1816, and was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Woodward) Hockenhull. He was the eldest of three children, having a brother John and a sister, Sarah. The later died young in England.

"The genealogy of the Hockenhull family is traced through many generations, and in days gone by the male members were prominently identified with the local and political affairs of Cheshire, officiating as sheriffs, and occupying other positions of responsibility and trust."

Thomas Hockenhull, father of Robert and John, was an architect of note in England, "and there are still standing in the city of Manchester, in the shape of many of the public buildings, the monuments of his taste and skill. Notable among these is the famous Manchester Theatre."

Mr. Hockenhull was thrown from a horse, while on his way to Balmoral, this accident resulting in his death. Perhaps this was one reason Robert Hockenhull never learned to handle horses.

In 1838, Robert Hockenhull came to the United States and to Jacksonville. He remained here a short time and then returned to England. He came back here in 1839, bringing his brother John with him, landing in New Orleans, and this was their home afterward.

Robert had studied medicine, and became an "apothecary" in the old country, so, upon coming here, he secured a place in the drug store of Reed and King. The partners being Dr. M. M. L. Reed and Joseph O. King, reference to both of whom has been made in this series of papers.

In the days when Mr. Hockenhull was in the employ of Reed and King the country was swept by the Morus-Multicaulis excitement. It was supposed that, by raising silk worms everybody could almost make a fortune over night. The expectant millionaires would bring specimens of their raising into the drug store, and leave them on the counter as samples. Mr. Hockenhull used to say he thought he was the only person who made any money out of the craze. He gathered up the daily crop of specimens, and sold them to people whose experience had not yet shown them the visionary condition of the time. He said that out of this sale he realized enough money to purchase the first bed-stead with which he began housekeeping and upon which he slept after he became highly well-to-do.

Mr. Hockenhull was possessed of great activity and fine business ability, so he was not content to remain a clerk long. He secured some capital from his parents and about 1839, opened a store for himself in a frame building which then stood on the east half of the north side of the Square, one door west of the present Phelps and Osborne dry goods establishment.

Hockenhull did not remain there long, but secured the two story brock building on the north half of the east side of the square, third door north of State street, where he continued the drug business for many years. In the early days business men needed to unite various departments of trade in one concern, and Mr. Hockenhull also sold books, fine cutlery and some lines of fancy notions, and, as his business grew, he added some light agricultural machinery, and occupied a large two story brock warehouse fronting south on East State street, one door east of the Square, where the Hockenhull building of gray stone front is now. He said of his early system of trade that he tried to have anything that would be called for. So "Hockenhull's" became a good place to go for what could not be found elsewhere. This proved a successful hit and increased his reputation and profits no doubt.

In those days merchants had to go east for creditable stocks of goods, and Mr. Hockenhull used to make what was then the journey to Philadelphia, New York and Boston, some or all, every spring about March. he had to travel by boat or canal to Pittsburgh, Pa., by stage "over the mountains", and by canal and boat on to the sea board. With improvements in railroading this became an easier trip, but he made it for many years. He was an advertiser so the public was duly notified of what could be found in his store.

Robert Hockenhull had his brother John as a partner twice under the firm name of R. & J. Hockenhull, but the connection did not continue long. John, however, was in the business as a clerk until 1866. On or about January first of that year, Robert Hockenhull took his efficient and valued clerks , John W. Young and S. Barton Hardy, into the firm of Hockenhull, Young and Co., at his old stand. This continued until about the first of January, 1872, when Mr. Hardy withdrew and went to Denver, Colorado, where, with Mr. Chain, he conducted a very successful business for many years. The firm then became known as Hockenhull and Young. Some years later Mr. Young took it over in his own name. But on his death, in 1891, the Hockenhulls took charge again. Meantime, the present red-stone Hockenhull building on the east side of the square had been built, and the drug store was moved two doors south, and next door south of the bank. Under the management of Coover & Shreeve the old established business still continues.


January 1, 1866, Robert Hockenhull with Edward R. Elliott and S. Reynolds King established the banking house of Hockenhull, King and Elliott, in the brick building second door north of State street, on the east side of the square.

Their business grew, and they wanted a better building, consequently about 1870, the firm entered the iron front, fire proof building in which they continued to do business. This firm was very conservative, adhering strictly to their own line of business, and not indulging in speculation. A competitor referred to their house as "the Bank of England". It was a happy hit, for the business was safe and substantial, and has continued to grow.

Mr. Edward Elliott was called hence Dec. 11, 1878, being still a comparatively young man. His interest passed to his estate, of which Frank Elliott became the managing partner for them. He was afterwards joined in the business by his brother, James Weir Elliott.

Mr. S. Reynolds King passed away June 8, 1889, and the firm name was changed to Hockenhull & Elliott.

Meantime, also, Mr. Hockenhull's sons, John Nelson and Robert McMackin, had become employees in the bank, finally succeeding their father in the business upon his death in 1891.

The younger Hockenhulls continued in the bank until about 1899, when John N. retired; and in 1908 Robert M. sold out his interest and became a partner in the Ayers National bank - of which he was a vice-president until his death. John N. has of late resided in Henderson, Jefferson county, New York.

It need scarcely be said that the bank is now known as the Elliott State Bank.

Robert Hockenhull made a venture in real estate and public improvement about 1856 when he built the "Hockenhull block" on the south side of Court street just east of the square. His estate erected the handsome business block already referred to, on the square and on East State street, besides a double brick residence block at the southeast corner of Sandy street and College avenue.

In 1857 Robert Hockenhull bought the plot of ground from the Rev. L. M. Glover, D.D., on Grove street, at the foot of Westminster upon which he built his handsome residence, in 1858. This is now known as the "Christian Old Folks Home."

Mr. Hockenhull lived on West State street where the Huntoon block now is; on South Main street, where the gas office now is; on North Main street, at the southeast corner of that street and Washington street; in the "Congregational parsonage" on West College avenue, north side, four doors west of Diamond Court, and in his residence just referred to on Grove street.

Robert Hockenhull was a man of fine tastes and of much cultivation. He was an excellent player upon the flute, and used that instrument for years in leading the choir of the First Presbyterian church, of which he was a member, and to which he was a large contributor. He served as choir master for twenty-five years or more.

Mr. Hockenhull was trustee of Jacksonville Female academy, and of Illinois College, to both of which institutions he contributed liberally.

In 1871 he revisited his old home in England, with his daughters Jane S. and Sarah.

All through his life he had occasion to travel, and his last trip of note was one to California about 1888.

In the matter of art Mr. Hockenhull had fine discrimination, and had embraced his opportunities for looking upon good paintings.

In personal appearance Mr. Hockenhull was a handsome man of good height and portly in figure. He dressed well in quiet taste. He was always, in appearance easily recognized as English, but he was a great admirer of America and its institutions, and a strong supporter of the Federal Union in its time of trial. As a young man he refused to vote improperly, as an alien, and carefully served out his seven years of probation for citizenship.

He was kindly and hearty in manner, and uniformly of good temper.


Robert Hockenhull was married about 1844, to Miss Matilda McMackin, daughter of Dennis and Margaret (Nelson) McMackin, and they were the parents of seven or eight children, five of whom survived their parents.

Second Paper

Robert Hockenhull married Miss Matilda McMackin, as stated in the first paper regarding the Hockenhulls. The wedding day was Oct. 4, 1844.

Their children were Elizabeth Woodward, Margaret, Jane Smith, Sarah, John Nelson and Robert McMackin.


Matilda McMackin, daughter of Dennis and Margaret McMackin, came to Jacksonville with her parents and their family, from Philadelphia, Pa., leaving that city in May, 1836, reaching here, by canal boat, stage, and probably the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

Mr. McMackin was a native of County Tyrone, Ireland, and highly connected in Philadelphia - and so his children were. He died in 1839. His only son, Nelson, dying about the same time.

Mrs. McMackin, daughter of Dr. David Nelson, a Scotch-American patriot of the Revolution, and his wife Margaret Hamilton, of Lancaster, Pa., was born in Wilmington, Delaware.

The children of Mr. and Mrs. McMackin, who grew up, were Mrs. Jane Porter Smith, wife of Stafford Smith; Mrs. Margaret Moore, wife of Joshua Moore; Mrs. Sarah Porter Thompson, afterwards wife of John Hockenhull; Mrs. Catharine Gondy, wife of Ensley T. Gondy; Mrs. Matilda Hockenhull, wife of Robert Hockenhull; Miss Eliza Nelson McMackin, and Mrs. Mary Amanda Divine, wife of Wm. Divine, Jr., of Philadelphia, Pa. A full sketch of the McMackins appeared in the Journal of Jan. 28, 1915, in this series of papers and a collection of their early letters from here was published in the Journal of April 2, 1915, also in this series.

Mrs. Matilda Hockenhull was a lady of good appearance, and sang some. Her son, R. M., said: "We got our voices from her." She was extremely witty.

She, as all girls, except Sarah, were members of the Presbyterian church, except Mrs. Smith, who joined her husband's church, the Episcopal.

Mrs. Hockenhull was very domestic in her tastes. But she was quite a traveler, having gone East several times, and to England in 1871. She died April 16, 1886.

Elizabeth W. Hockenhull was quite interested in society, and traveled considerably in this country. She also was a good singer.

Margaret died at the age of eighteen months, in Perry.

Jane S. Hockenhull was graduated from Jacksonville Female Academy in 1870, traveled a good deal in this country and was in England in 1873. She had ability in art.

Sarah Hockenhull was graduated from Jacksonville Female Academy in 1872, has traveled extensively in this country, and was in England in 1873.

John Nelson Hockenhull clerked in the Hockenhull and Elliott bank, and was a partner in it, until about 1899. Since then he has been living most of the time in Henderson, Jefferson county, New York, but he has in the meantime been across the Atlantic several times, and spent a year or more at a time in England. He was a good singer and a genial companion.

Robert McMackin Hockenhull, the youngest child of the family, was born on West College avenue, in December, 1857. He was graduated from Illinois College in 1879, being a member of Phi Alpha society. He entered the Hockenhull & Elliott bank as a clerk, subsequently becoming a partner; retiring in 1908, and becoming a vice president of the Ayers National bank, until his death, July 22, 1915. He was widely known as one of the best singers of Jacksonville. He was a trustee of the State street church, afterwards going to the Congregational church. He served for years in the choir of the First or State street, and also in the Congregational church. He had considerable artistic ability in drawing. He had traveled in this country, was in England once or twice, and visited the island of Cuba.

Mr. Hockenhull was a warm hearted man, and gifted with generous impulses.


John Hockenhull, brother of Robert, was born in Manchester, Cheshire, England, coming to Illinois as stated before, 1839.

Mr. Hockenhull, some time after coming here, entered the Hockenhull drug store, being a partner at one time, and a clerk latterly. He acquired a reasonable competence through his attention to business and built a two-building brick block on the East Side of the Square, about 1856. This block was just south of the present Elliott bank. He bought the old Congregational church, on the south half of the East Side of the Square in the summer of 1857, and, in a year or two erected four two-story brick stores in front of the old church; using that building for some years as "Union Hall." Abraham Lincoln delivered a lecture there in those days. "Union Hall" and the Hockenhull block all burned January 7, 1877.

Mr. Hockenhull was a bachelor until April, 1866, when he married his brother Robert's wife's sister. Mrs. Sarah P. Thompson - nee McMackin. He bought a place he called "Mulberry Grove" about that time, on the west side of Lincoln avenue, just the second lot of ground south of Mound avenue. There he made his home until about 1875, when he bought and improved the property at the northwest corner of Grove and Prospect streets, which was his final home. He became a member of Westminster church, with his wife after his marriage. He died about October 10, 1885. He was a quiet, retiring man, but of discriminating tastes, and of much kindliness. In company with his wife, Mr. Hockenhull re-visited his native land in 1871.

Sarah Porter McMackin became the wife of Joseph C. Thompson, of Meredosia, in 1845; they making their home on a farm near that place, and in the town until July 17, 1855, the date of his death. She was devotedly attached to Mr. Thompson's son, J. Wilson Thompson, child of a former wife.

As stated above, Mrs. Thompson became the wife of John Hockenhull in 1866. She resided in their home, after his death, until her own passing, about October 16, 1894. During a part of her life Mrs. Hockenhull was a Methodist, and she was very efficient in Sunday school work in Meredosia.


Elizabeth Woodward, wife of Thomas Hockenhull, was a typical and good-looking English woman. She first came to Jacksonville in the late fall of 1858, having been accompanied across the ocean and to Illinois by the Rev. L. M. Glover, DD., on his return from his European tour that year.

Mrs. Hockenhull made her home with her son Robert, until the next year, when she returned to the old country.

In 1873 she accompanied her son, Robert, and his daughters, Jane and Sarah, to this country and city, and again made her home with Robert. Mrs. Hockenhull died a year or two later, and was buried in Diamond Grove cemetery, as were both of her sons. "Grandmother" Hockenhull was much like her son, Robert, in size and appearance, and a quick-witted, vigorous old lady. She had the English capacity for walking, and, on one occasion - in her native land - stepped off forty miles.


Robert Hockenhull was married June 23, 1884, to Miss Rebecca B. Rust, a most estimable lady of this city. Mrs. Hockenhull now resides with a niece in Washington, D.C. Mr. Hockenhull died at his residence, Grove street, April 3, 1891.

When Robert Hockenhull began business first on the North side of the Square, he succeeded to the drug store of English & Munroe, Dr. Nathaniel English and Dr. Thomas Monroe.